It was written in the stars that one of Detroit's most impressive Blues/Rock singer/songwriter of the last decade, Eliza Neals, would cross artistic path with New York's Blues/Rock giant Popa Chubby, sooner or later.
To work on her next project, well conscious of the enormous success of 2017's album 10.000 Feet Below and the amount of expectations from fans and music press, it would have put a lot of pressure on many other artists but not to Eliza Neals.
Able to create the right bridge between traditional and contemporary Blues and Blues/Rock, thanks to an extraordinary vocal ability and to a songwriting often delivering intense, cutthroat lyrics, it was almost inevitable that Neals would want to work with a guitarist and a tried-and-true giant of modern Blues/Rock like Popa Chubby.
The outcome of such strong combustion of Blues badassery has resulted in a high-octane Blues fuelled EP called Sweet Or Mean, a body of work that includes some of the finest work to date, for the artist from Detroit.
Together with Chubby, here in the role of producer too, Neals has surrounded herself of first class studio musicians to help providing the singer/songwriter with the perfect musical carpet that would enhance best the skills of Eliza Neals, especially from a vocal perspective. From Dave Keyes on Piano and Hammond to John Medeiros Jr. on Drums and from Bass player Chris Gambaro-Vega to one of the best Blues/Rock Horn Section currently in the States, made by Ian Hendrickson-Smith on saxophone and Michael Leonhart on Trumpet, Neals couldn't bring any better sidemen that the aforementioned ones to build the perfect sonic platform for Sweet Or Mean.
Although her 2017 previous record was considered Neals' best work to date, some music fans may want to consider listening to Sweet Or Mean too, to be able to capture the real essence of an extraordinary singer and songwriter like Eliza Neals.
The 6 tracks included in Sweet Or Mean (5 new originals all written by Neals plus an alternative take of one of the tunes) are pure Blues dynamite.
To take a shot to which is the highlight of this mini album is practically impossible, because true Blues and Blues/rock lovers will enjoy every minute of the record. From the powerful and vocally voluptuous deliver of Blackish Grey to that gritty, thunderous straight-to-your-face tune that is Livin With Yo Mama, Eliza Neals pushes firmly and very convincingly on the Blues pedal thanks to some of the best vocal deliveries of her career to date.
Chubby, as a guitarist and producer of Sweet Or Mean, manages very successfully to enhance all the talent and artistic features of Eliza Neals, adding, at the same time, his trademark beefy and powerful guitar sound to a record of great depth and beauty, even when Popa Chubby and Neals go Acoustic, on that marvelous tune that is Knock Knock Knockin.
Through Sweet Or Mean, Neals reminds us all that there may be out there a lot of excellent female Blues singers and songwriters, but almost nobody, right now, does the Blues quite like Eliza Neals does.
Sweet Or Mean is out now and it is available via Amazon